Here in western world we only think of yoga as a load of poses. Women in lycra and people bending over. Doing downward dogs, stretching to get flexible and supple.
Yoga actually is a way of life and did you know the poses (asanas) are only one part of it? There is way more to yoga than just tying yourself up in knots and getting bendy. In a nutshell, there are scriptures, food, meditation, karma and asanas. It is a whole life experience.
However, for the purpose of this discussion I will just keep it simple and exercise based. We will discuss Yoga as we know it in the western world. A type of exercise class.
I am always being asked what kind of Yoga I teach. Well the simple answer is, I teach Hatha Yoga. I did my teacher training in India in an ashram. (Basically a very strict retreat where we studied all limbs of yoga and not just the bendy yoga.) It was tough going at the time but well worth the experience.
What is Hatha Yoga?
Hatha is an umbrella / collective term that covers all physical aspects of yoga. So all yoga classes are Hatha Yoga? Yes, that includes power yoga, ashtanga yoga, bikram yoga and my own yoga for cyclists. All yoga poses are hatha yoga. Hatha means forceful in Sanskrit with is an ancient language. In class your teacher may call out the poses by their sanskrit name. e.g. Malasana is a squat position. Don't forget Yoga is over 5000 years old. It is a way life much like a religion.
Hatha Yoga classes are gentle, teaching basic yoga poses that are suitable for all. There is a stop between poses and you will have time to prepare for the next one. You will still be stretching, exercising, burning calories and toning up. There will be focus on breathing techniques, alignment, relaxation all while working on strength and flexibility. You might notice this class is graded by teachers eg beginners, intermediate and advance for example.
So what are all the other types of yoga then? Bikram / Iyengar/ Ashtanga? I'm confused!
Well there are a lot of "Brand Names" when it comes to Yoga. Remember, yoga was brought from the east to the west. It then became a commercial commodity. Hence the branding!
Bikram Yoga: Hatha Yoga poses done in a very hot room. This class follows the exact same sequence every time. There is never any deviation from this sequence of 26 poses. "Invented" by Mr Bikram Choudhury and now trademarked. Recently there has been a lot of controversy surrounding Bikram himself.
Hot Yoga: Hatha yoga taught in a hot room but NOT Bikram Yoga affiliated. There will be a deviation from the Bikram sequence to avoid trademark disputed/ brand management etc.
Iyengar Yoga: Developed by B.K.S Iyengar this style of yoga is alignment driven. Using a variety of props, bolsters, straps etc the class is meticulous about correct alignment. This class is slow moving but challenging nonetheless.
Ashtanga Yoga: Brought to the West by Pattabhi Jois in the 1970's this class is athletic! Following a strict sequence this class flows from one pose to the next. This class is physically demanding and good flexibility would be required.
Vinyasa Yoga: Like Ashtanga yoga this class is athletic and physically demanding. However unlike Ashtanga yoga it does not follow the exact same routine. The class will flow from pose to pose but no two classes are the same. My Yoga for Cyclists class on a monday would be a hatha / Vinyasa crossover class.
Restorative Yoga: A soothing and relaxing class which is perfect for the body, mind and soul. Rejuvenating, and restful is the key to class. Getting in touch with your body and learning to switch off your mind are essential to this class.
So what classes do I teach again!?
Monday Night 7:30Pm Yoga for Cyclists, Richmond Street Dublin 2. We start off with breathing (pranayama). The main body of the class focuses on core strengthening, back bending to undo all the hunched over posture we do on the bike, lengthening hamstrings and a huge part of the class is focusing on our hips. Relaxation at the end.
Tuesday Night 8:30pm Yoga for Beginners, perfect posture for all. Rathfarnham. It is exactly what it says on the tin. This class is suitable for all, even the ones who can't touch their toes! This slow paced class gives you a chance to learn, practice and progress at your own pace. We focus on posture to undo the stresses of modern life on your body.
So if you're still not sure what class is suitable for you I would say just give one a go. Nothing ventured nothing gained. You really have got nothing to lose. Even if you hate it, your body will benefit, you might destress a bit and your heart will love you for that.
About the Author:
Sinéad Kennedy is a Physical Therapist, Yoga Siromani and Pilates Instructor, based in South County Dublin. She treats and teaches people from all walks of life, including many athletes, especially cyclists, runners and golfers. Recently featured in the Irish Independant, FIT Magazine, her Yoga 4 Cyclists class has gained notoriety. A keen cyclist and proud member of Orwell Wheelers she has completed numerous cycling events including La Marmotte Sportive. Sinéad has also completed three Dublin City Marathons, numerous Adventure Races, Half Marathons and the Camino de Santiago.
Keen to spread the word on all things related to Wellness, Fitness, Coaching and Travel.